Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trick or Treat Trail

by: flutefreak03

Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison participated in the Clawson Youth Assistance “Trick or Treat Trail” event in Clawson Michigan. Our NCS passed out candy while two Storm Troopers, a Jedi, Mara Jade, Rebel Pilot and Lando Calrissian stood along the path to greet and take pictures with the kids.  The Stormtroopers were popular characters until it got dark, when the lightsabers could show up better… then Mara Jade and the Jedi were the “cool kids!” Whether you are a fan of the light side or dark side of the Force, both kids and adults were pleased to see us at the event.

The line of kids trick or treating looked like it would never end and we (surprisingly) did not run out of candy.  We encountered many Elsas and Annas from “Frozen” along with several Ninja Turtles.  Overall, this troop was a lot of fun and the looks on the kids faces made it worth it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Boo at the Zoo Strikes Back!

Last week, I promised to report on anything NEW over at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo during our second weekend of “Boo at the Zoo” with Great Lakes Base, Ohio Garrison and Rancor Clan.  Looking back, I may have taken that oath a bit literally.

How about we start with what stayed the same?  “Boo at the Zoo” is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s is a neighborhood of safe Halloween entertainment for kids, featuring lights, games and other fun activities as families tour the many animal exhibits during the evening hours.  This was the final weekend of “Boo at the Zoo” for 2014 and (just like last week) Saturday night was SOLD OUT!

One thing that was different was the weather -- which was BEAUTIFUL, unlike last weekend.  This meant that more people were coming dressed in their favorite Halloween costumes, minus the winter coats; a tradition for anyone who grew up in NE Ohio. 

Another thing different was that with the exception of Snips and myself, we had an entirely different crew from last weekend; all of them “Boo at the Zoo” rookies.  We started off in our usual spot by the main entrance and people would ask if they could get pictures with us -- as we at GLB like to say, “it’s what we do!”  However, once the zoo was opened up to the public to explore Snips had the idea of mixing things up a bit from our standard routine.  Traditionally, we wait for the crowds to disperse before we go exploring the zoo for ourselves. However, since the weather was so nice and sunset wasn’t for another hour or so, we decided to start our patrol of the zoo while it was still daylight.  In fact, we got all the way up the hill by the Wolf Lodge, tigers and bears (oh my!) exhibits before it got really dark and more people stopped us for photos along the way then we typically get waiting by the main entrance.

After meeting up with a pair of late arrivals from Rancor Clan, our group made it’s way towards the opposite end of the zoo.  We stopped for a while at the newly restored
Circle of Wildlife Carousel” -- featuring sixty-four, individually carved animal figures, all hand created by an Ohio-based company.  This thing is BEAUTIFUL to look at and was originally part of the old Euclid Beach Park from 1910-1969.  Restoring this carousel has been a labor of love for the Cleveland Metroparks and now a new generation of kids will get to build a lifetime of memories riding this famed attraction.

From there our group took a “walkabout” through the Australian-themed exhibit and Reinberger Homestead, past the “Elephant Crossing” (who smell a lot like Banthas) until we were back at the main entrance and most of our guys were ready to gear down for the evening.

GLB "Mission Photos" -- Cleveland Metroparks "Boo at the Zoo"

It had been a different type of evening for us at “Boo at the Zoo” – but as always, it also was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Boo at the Zoo

Having been around the galaxy as much as I have, you tend to look for things that stand the test of time.  There is a rich history of trooping at Cleveland Metroparks “Boo at the Zoo” since long before Great Lakes Base even existed.  While some would argue that makes this particular event boring, it doesn’t as Great Lakes Base, Ohio Garrison and Rancor Clan return for another FUN tour at this Cleveland area tradition.

“Boo at the Zoo” is a family friendly event, hosted by the Cleveland Metropark Zoo, where they decorate the zoo in lights and other non-scary Halloween entertainment as families get to visit many of the animals and exhibits.  “Boo at the Zoo” features: animal shows, a Not-So Haunted Greenhouse, train rides, a hay maze, along with dozens of stilt walker and other entertainers.  And despite your typical NE Ohio late-October weather (cold and rainy) this event was once again SOLD OUT!

One of the things I like most about trooping “Boo at the Zoo” is that it’s a reminder about what trooping should be all about.  Over the years, I’ve developed friendships with many of the other costumed performers who work EVERY night of the event.  For example, there’s this man who plays a stilt-walking clown called “Pee-Chee” that has been part of this event for as long as I can remember.  As it turned out, he had recently gone through major heart surgery – and yet he’s back out there making kids smile (a little shorter then I remember him) which means he’s got more “heart” then a lot of people.

The other thing I love about trooping during “Boo at the Zoo” is to watch the people coming in get dressed up for Halloween; even when you have to find a costume that goes with your winter coat over it.  As you can imagine, there were A LOT of Elsa and Anna from Disney’s “Frozen”, Superheroes and all the usual favorites.  As an avid Star Wars fan, I was pleased to see many kids dressed up as Star Wars characters: Darth Vaders of all sizes, a few Jedi younglings, Captain Rex and the clones are still popular and even Ezra from the NEW “Star Wars Rebels.”

GLB "Mission Photos" -- Cleveland Metroparks "Boo at the Zoo"

This year, we took a more “fly casual” approach to trooping this event.  While we still joined Pee-Chee and the other costume performers at the main entrance to welcome guests and pose for pictures, because we had so many of our own group bring their kids to enjoy this event.  Once our group was free to wander the zoo, we made our way up the hill to the Wolf Lodge; where our favorite pair of costumed Cellists who will play a selection of Star Wars music whenever we spot us walk in!   

Later, we got to meet Chad Schofield from the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team.  This is another reason why I love coming back for this event: our guys do a little work… then get to have fun!

We have one more weekend at “Boo at the Zoo” this weekend, so I’ll try reporting on some of the new additions to Cleveland Metroparks in my next report; after I enjoy some funnel cake!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jension High School

by: oldbenkenobi

Last weekend, Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison took part in Jenison High School (west Michigan) homecoming pregame fundraiser for “Make-A-Wish."  The fundraiser featured carnival type games and a bounce house for kids to play inside.  We helped out by having troopers and myself available to have picture taken with fans; including my new friend you see in this picture.  Overall, the night was a big success!  

The true star of the night was a little boy who had already had his “wish” granted.  He had his “Jedi training” at Disney World and wouldn't you know it --  a Jedi was there that night to give the young man more training! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cincinnati Comic Expo

It was a busy weekend in downtown Cincinnati, between “Octoberfest”, homecoming weekend for University of Cincinnati, the Bengals were at home vs. the Titans on Sunday, as well as Cincinnati Comic Expo.  Members from Great Lakes Base, Ohio Garrison and Rancor Clan were all in attendance – along with friends from nearby Kentucky – for Ohio’s largest comic book convention.

Because of changes to Episode VII filming schedule, Peter Mayhew was forced to cancel his appearance.  David Prowse also had to cancel, due to knee surgery.  Yet shortly after that news, it was announced a trio of Boba Fetts: Daniel Logan, Dickey Beers (stunts) and John Morton -- also known for “Dak” from Empire Strikes Back -- would replace Mayhew and Prowse on the Cincy Expo guest list.  This was the first time John Morton has appeared at a convention in Great Lakes Base, so the boys from Shadow Squadron made sure to offer him a proper welcome. (more on that in upcoming posts)

photo courtesy Kristie Johnson
Another big debut this weekend was for the Ohio Garrison “Detention Block” display booth.  Joining last year’s Speeder Bike and full-sized Dewback -- provided by Midsouth Garrison -- was a full-sized Death Star detention block, complete with two working “cells” where people could be held prisoner as part of the “Bounty Hunt” charity fundraiser.  For a small donation, folks were given lanyards to walk around the convention floor – where troopers from Ohio Garrison and bounty hunters from Rancor Clan would “arrest” them, and place them inside the detention block for about 5 minutes; or until someone paid to “bail” them out first.  The proceeds from this weekend’s went to Families with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) -- a local autism support group. 

While we here at Great Lakes Base typically do our best to foil the Empire’s efforts, we did manage to help sign up several people for the charity fundraiser – I even helped a few evade capture from Troopers and Mercs for a little while longer!  Together, we helped raise just over $600 for the organization.  To learn more visit: http://www.familieswithasd.org

Along with the Star Wars actor guests on the lineup, Cincinnati Comic Expo featured a pair of local artists with ties to Star Wars.  One of the headline artists was longtime friend, Ohio native and Rebel Legion Honorary Member – Joe Corroney.  Also setting up shop along “artist alley” was aspiring artist and actual Great Lakes Base member Travis Perkins; who’s done several projects for us over the years.  If you are a fan of Star Wars artwork, I highly recommend you visit both of their respective tables and pickup something for your wall at home.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Detroit Tigers "Star Wars Night"

My first MLB game away from home was at the old Tigers Stadium… vs. the Cleveland Indians!  Some of my greatest memories at Indians home games were always against the Detroit Tigers.  Back in high school, I used to own matching “home” and “away” Tigers baseball hats, direct from the team’s clubhouse -- a gift from my dad’s old Navy buddy, who took us to that game at Tiger Stadium years ago.  So when the Detroit Tigers hosted the Cleveland Indians for this year’s “Star Wars Night” -- you can imagine how much I needed to be there.

In fact, Tigers “Star Wars Night” has become something of an annual tradition for the members of Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison.  Going back to 2011, the Detroit Tigers have hosted a Star Wars-themed game and has been a crowd favorite ever since.  Organizing an event of this size can be like leading an entire campaign vs. a single battle, and Michigan Captain “kcjohnson” did an amazing job in his first year coordinating this event, on behalf of us Rebels.  In fact, the Tigers game is so special to groups like us -- Snips92 arranged to fly directly to Detroit (from work trip in Boston) just so she wouldn’t miss the opportunity to troop this game!

Now, understand that events like this tend to make for a LONG day for us.  We arrive at Comerica Park around 2:30pm and once everyone is checked in and security looks through our armor bins… then we make our way down to the lower levels, where (much like a relief pitcher) it’s off the bullpen to wait.  Later, once everyone is suited up -- we march outside for a massive group photo, under the giant tiger statue in front of the ballpark.  Unfortunately, we happen to run into a bridal party – who didn’t seem to get the hint that while for the bride this may be “her day”… we’re kinda on a tight schedule.

photo courtesy Kristie Johnson
Once the “David Tutera” drama was over, we head back inside and spread out around Comerica Park to welcome fans as they enter the ballpark.  My group was stationed up on the 300 level, which was rather chilly for mid-September.  As time moved closer to first pitch, we made our way back down to the right field tunnel, for the Star Wars character parade around the field during pregame introductions.  Members of the Michigan Philharmonic played a medley of Star Wars music as we marched around the warning track.  A small group of characters got to take part in the opening pitch ceremony, with Boba Fett getting the call this year.

After that, it was time to meet the fans and take pictures… LOTS of pictures!  If you were lucky enough to make it over where the team had special “Star Wars Night” backdrops (great!) -- otherwise, you just paired up with a few other characters and just braced for wave after wave of photo-ops with fans!  The crowd was super excited to see us, and I always seem to get mobbed by the cute girls whenever I troop in Detroit -- think I should relocate here? ;)

Unfortunately (for us Tribe fans) Alex Avila hit a 2-run homer in the 8 th, giving the Tigers a 5-4 win over the Indians.  It still was fun to be back in Detroit, watching my two favorite teams play each other -- but this time I had to represent CLE by wearing my "Chief Wahoo" hat backstage.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Geek Fan Expo

by: flutefreak05

Today I attended Geek Fan Expo in Dearborn, MI where Timothy Zahn was giving a panel.  A week before, I wrote on his facebook page saying, “Hello Mr. Zahn, I look forward to meeting you with some EOF the 501st members of the Great Lakes Garrison next Saturday at Dearborn fan expo. I will be representing the flagship eclipse as Mara Jade.”

His response was “Wonderful! I'll look forward to seeing you there.”

Right before his panel I saw him walking in the hallway and he came up to me and said, “hello Emperor’s Hand.”  I introduced myself to him and told him I was the one who had written on his Facebook wall and he remembered me; it was one of the best feelings in the world.  He posed for a couple pictures with me and I attended his Q and A panel about his writings.  I raised my hand the same time as another attendee and Timothy Zahn said, “sorry, the Emperor’s Hand gets priority!”  

After the panel he signed my copy of “Choices of One” for me and posed for a photo with both the 501st members present (DS31694 and TK51505).  We visited his table and he continued to talk to us making us feel special.  It was an honor to meet the author that created the character I do and he was decked out in 501st items.